As a dual-core city, Tianjin is divided into the old city and the Binhai New Area. Binhai New Area is a new growth pole in China, and it maintains an annual growth rate of nearly 30% of the GDP. As of the end of 2010, 285companies have established branch offices in Binhai. It is a base of China's advanced industry, financial reform, and innovation.
In urban population, the city ranks sixth in China and its urban land area (Binhai New Area is not included) is fifth after Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan and Guangzhou. Tianjin's urban area is located along the Hai River, which connects to the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers via the Grand Canal in Tianjin. Tianjin was once home to foreign concessions in the late Qing Dynasty and early Kuomintang (KMT) era. The municipality the coastal region of Tanggu, home to the Binhai New Area and the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area (TEDA).
Tianjin's climate is similar to, though slightly warmer than, its neighbour Beijing. Overall it can be described as continental; winters are cold and dry, as nights below −10 °C are not uncommon, and summers are hot and humid, with days reaching above the upper 30's °C not out of the question. The best time to visit is autumn, though if you do not mind dust storms, spring would also be an excellent choice.
History of Tianjin
The land where Tianjin is located today was created in prehistoric times by sedimentation of various rivers entering the sea at Bohai Gulf, including the Yellow River, which entered the sea in this area at one point.
The opening of the Grand Canal of China during the Sui Dynasty prompted the development of Tianjin into a trading center. Until 1404, Tianjin was called "Zhigu" (直沽), or "Straight Port". In that year, the Yongle Emperor renamed the city Tianjin, meaning "the Heavenly Ford", to indicate that the Emperor (Son of Heaven) forded the river at that point. This is because he had indeed forded the river in Tianjin when in contention for the throne with his nephew. Later, a fort was established in Tianjin, known as "Tianjin Wei" (天津卫), the Fort of Tianjin.
Tianjin was promoted to a prefecture in 1725. Tianjin County was established under the prefecture in 1731.
In 1856, Chinese soldiers boarded The Arrow, a Chinese-owned ship registered in Hong Kong flying the British flag and suspected of piracy, smuggling, and of being engaged in the opium trade. They captured 12 men and imprisoned them. In response, the British and French sent gunboats under the command of Admiral Sir Michael Seymour to capture the Taku forts (大沽砲台) near Tianjin in May 1858. At the end of the first part of the Second Opium War in June of the same year, the Treaties of Tianjin were signed, which opened Tianjin to foreign trade. The treaties were ratified by the Emperor of China in 1860, and Tianjin (known as Tientsin) was formally opened to Great Britain and France, and thus to the outside world. Between 1895 and 1900, Britain and France were joined by Japan, Germany and Russia, and even by countries without Chinese concessions such as Austria-Hungary, Italy and Belgium, in establishing self-contained concessions in Tianjin, each with its own prisons, schools, barracks and hospitals. These nations left many architectural reminders of their rule, notably churches and thousands of villas. Today those villas provide an exotic flavour to Tianjin.
The presence of foreign influence in Tianjin was not always peaceful; one of the most serious violent incidents to take place was the Tianjin Church Incident (天津教案). In June 1870, the orphanage held by the Wanghailou Church (望海楼教堂), Our Lady of Victories, in Tianjin, built by French Roman Catholic missionaries, was accused of the kidnapping and brainwashing of Chinese children. On June 21, the magistrate of Tianjin County initiated a showdown at the church that developed into violent clashes between the church's Christian supporters and non-Christian Tianjin residents. The furious protestors eventually burned down Wanghailou Church and the nearby French consulate and killed eighteen foreigners including ten French nuns, the French consul, and merchants. France and six other Western nations complained to the Qing government, which was forced to pay compensation for the incident.
In June 1900, the Boxers were able to seize control of much of Tianjin. On June 26, European defense forces heading towards Beijing were stopped by Boxers at nearby Langfang, and were defeated and forced to turn back to Tianjin. The foreign concessions were also under siege for several weeks.
In July 1900, the Eight-Nation Alliance recaptured Tianjin. This alliance soon established the Tianjin Provisional Government, composed of representatives from each of the occupying forces (Russian, British, Japanese, German, French, American, Austro-Hungarian, and Italian). The city was governed by this council until August 15, 1902 when the city was returned to Qing control. Eminent Qing General Yuan Shikai led efforts to transform Tianjin into a modern city, establishing the first modern Chinese police force. In 1907, Yuan supervised China's first modern democratic elections for a county council.
Western nations were permitted to garrison the area to ensure open access to Bejing. The British maintained a brigade of two battalions in Tianjin, and the Italians, French, Japanese, Germans, Russians, and Austro-Hungarians maintained understrength regiments; the United States did not initially participate. During World War I, the German and Austro-Hungarian garrisons were captured and held as Prisoners of War by Allied Forces while the Bolshevik government withdrew the Russian garrison in 1918. In 1920, the remaining participating nations asked the United States to join them, and the US then sent the 15th Infantry Regiment, less one battalion, to Tientsin from the Philippines.
Tianjin was established as a municipality of China (直辖市) in 1927.
Garrison duty was highly regarded by the troops. General George C Marshall, the "architect of victory" in World War II when he was the United States Army Chief of Staff, served at Tientsin in the 1920s as Executive Officer of the 15th Infantry. The US withdrew this unit in 1938 and a US presence was maintained only by the dispatch of a small US Marine Corps contingent from the Embassy Guard at Bejing.
On July 30, 1937, Tianjin fell to Japan, as part of the Second Sino-Japanese War, but was not entirely occupied, as the Japanese for the most part respected foreign concessions until 1941, when the American and British concessions were occupied. In the summer of 1939, there occurred a major crisis in Anglo-Japanese relations with the Tientsin Incident. On June 14, 1939, the Imperial Japanese Army surrounded and blockaded the British concession over the refusal of the British authorities to hand over to the Japanese six Chinese who had assassinated a locally prominent Japanese collaborator, and had taken refuge in the British concession. For a time, the 1939 crisis appeared likely to cause an Anglo-Japanese war, especially when reports of the maltreatment by the Japanese Army of British subjects wishing to leave or enter the concession appeared in the British press. The crisis ended when the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was advised by the Royal Navy and the Foreign Office that the only way to force the Japanese to lift the blockade was to send the main British battle fleet to Far Eastern waters, and that given the current crisis in Europe that it would be inappropriate to send the British fleet out of European waters, thus leading the British to finally turn over the six Chinese, who were then executed by the Japanese. During the Japanese occupation, Tianjin was ruled by the North China Executive Committee, a puppet state based in Beijing.
On August 9, 1940, all of the British troops in Tianjin were ordered to withdraw. On November 14, 1941 the American Marine unit stationed in Tianjin was ordered to leave, but before this could be accomplished, the Japanese attacked the United States. The American Marine detachment surrendered to the Japanese on December 8, 1941. Only the Italian and French concessions (the local French officials were loyal to Vichy) were allowed to remain by the Japanese. Japanese occupation lasted until August 15, 1945, the surrender of Japan marking the end of World War II.
Tianjin holds the annual Meeting of the New Champions of World Economic Forum (also called Summer Davos) from 2008.
In October 2010, the UN Climate Change Conference convened in Tianjin.